A Pretoria restaurant-based businessman has threatened to sue the state after police detained his employee for eight hours on Friday night, for serving what he says was a nonalcoholic drink.
Werner Pretorius, 36, owner of Hennie’s Moreleta Restaurant in Pretoria, is launching a civil claim against the state after his general manager, Atrayo Nolte, 31, was arrested by three police officers, who were adamant that a patron had been served an alcoholic gin. Under current lockdown level 3 restrictions, selling or distributing alcohol is a criminal offence.
The case eventually ended up in the Hatfield magistrate’s court on Tuesday, where Pretorius’ lawyer says, a decision was taken not to enroll the matter.
Police and the National Prosecuting Authority have been approached for comment Pretoria restaurant.
“One of the guys approached the bar and was very persistent that he wanted us to serve them alcohol. We told him we didn’t have it, and he agreed that they would have a nonalcoholic gin and tonic. He asked us to ‘make it nice’, and we explained that all he was going to get was a nonalcoholic drink,” said Nolte.
Nolte said an employee who was manning the bar on the day poured a nonalcoholic drink and served the men, who were seated outside.
“Two police officers in civilian clothes then entered. They didn’t sign our Covid register or have their temperatures taken at the door. They walked up to me and asked me where our liquor was,” he said.
He claimed the officers were adamant that he had served alcohol to the men outside and wanted to know where the stock was.
“I told him our stock was in the storeroom, locked away. He ran outside and smelled and tasted the drink our bartender had poured and was convinced it was alcohol,” Nolte said.
Pretorius was not in Gauteng at the time of the incident, and had to talk to the police and his staff via cellphone.
“My staff even showed the cops the empty bottle of Soho nonalcoholic gin that was poured. They were having none of it. They just wanted to know where our storeroom was,” he said.
The officers, who introduced themselves as being from the Johannesburg South precinct, said they were confiscating all of their stock.
“I told my staff to immediately do a stock take and assist with an inventory list. They even helped load all the alcohol — worth about R112,000 — into the vehicles,” said Pretorius.
Nolte was then instructed that he would need to meet the cops at the Garsfontein police station to sign a declaration form.